AAAS Lifetime Mentor Award Honors Barbara Horwitz from University of California, Davis, for Making Significant Contributions Towards Increasing Diversity in Physiology

Barbara A. Horwitz, distinguished professor of neurobiology, physiology, and behavior at the University of California, Davis, has been honored with the AAAS Lifetime Mentor Award in recognition of her transformative impact towards creating a diverse doctorate workforce in the field of physiology. In her roles as professor, department chair, and vice provost for academic personnel/affairs, Horwitz has contributed to the success of undergraduate and graduate students, as well as junior faculty, throughout her career.

Courtesy Barbara Horwitz

As a principal investigator for programs funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Horwitz mentored and encouraged graduate and undergraduate students, including underrepresented minorities, to become involved in science. Through the University of California, Davis' Initiative for Maximizing Student Diversity/Development, Horwitz teaches a year-long course on professional skills development for underrepresented minorities in their first year of doctoral studies in biomedical sciences. To date, 44 of the underrepresented minority program participants, including 26 women, have earned their Ph.D.'s.

Horwitz has overseen graduate studies as major professor/co-major professor for 20 Ph.D. students, including 13 women. In total, she has mentored 68 underrepresented students through completion of their doctoral degrees. Horwitz also mentors undergraduate students participating in the Maximizing Access to Research Careers Undergraduate Student Training in Academic Research (MARC-U-STAR) program. She was honored with the University of California Presidential Award for Excellence in Fostering Undergraduate Research in 1995.

In addition to her mentoring, Horwitz has been recognized as an outstanding professor, and she has been honored twice with the University of California, Davis Distinguished Teaching Award. Former students raved about Horwitz's teaching and described her classes as "life-changing."

"It was after taking her class in cellular physiology that I immediately changed my major from biochemistry (boring!) to physiology (exciting!)," wrote Gregory T. Carter, medical director at St. Luke's Rehabilitation Institute. "After changing majors, I signed up for literally all of Barbara's classes and asked her to be my major advisor."

Horwitz has also taught her students how to teach, wrote Vanessa Routh, professor in the departments of pharmacology and physiology and neuroscience at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. As a teaching assistant during graduate school, Routh spent Saturdays with Horwitz as she reviewed the experiments and topics they would cover in the week ahead. "However, it was her example that has taught me the most," Routh wrote. "In each situation with my own students, I ask myself, how would Barbara have handled this? She is truly my role model in all ways."

In 2007, Horwitz received the Bodil Schmidt Nielsen Distinguished Mentor and Scientist Award, the highest honor given to members of the American Physiological Society (APS). Since joining in 1969, Horwitz has served on numerous APS committees, was elected to the APS Council in 1993, and served as APS president from 2002-2003, only the second woman to serve in that position in the organization's history.

The AAAS Lifetime Mentor Award honors AAAS members who have mentored significant numbers of underrepresented students pursuing Ph.D.'s in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), and/or those who have changed the climate of a department, institution, or field to significantly increase the diversity of students pursuing Ph.D.'s in STEM fields. Nominees must also demonstrate scholarship, activism, and community building, and have more than 25 years of mentoring experience. The award includes a $5,000 prize, a commemorative plaque, and complimentary registration to the AAAS Annual Meeting, as well as reimbursement for reasonable travel and hotel expenses to attend the meeting.

Horwitz will receive the 2014 AAAS Lifetime Mentor Award during the 181st AAAS Annual Meeting in San Jose, California, 12-16 February 2015. The AAAS Awards Ceremony and Reception will be held at 6:15 p.m. on Friday, 13 February, in Room 220C of the San Jose Convention Center.